Tag: baseball

“God, I Love Baseball”

I got to go to the third league division series game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Washington Nationals yesterday at Nationals park. I’ve been to countless major league baseball games, but this was the first time I’ve ever been to an MLB playoff game. As it turns out, it was a somewhat historic game, the first home playoff game for a Washington team since 1933.

I’ve been to Nationals Park six or seven times before, but this was the most crowded I’ve ever seen it. I was lucky–my friend who gave me the ticket had Diamond Club seats: great seats, with all kinds of perks, but even so, the park was packed to the gills. Red rally towels were handed out to everyone as they came into the ballpark and when I looked around the stadium, it seemed that all I could see was red:


The Nationals lost–were really blown away by the Cardinals yesterday. In the last 2 games I think the Cards outscored the Nats 20-4. Still I diligently kept score throughout the game, although I did so on paper because I didn’t want to bring my iPad to the stadium. Here are my scorecards for those interested.

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Cardinals Scorecard for Game 3 NLDS

And here’s the Nats’ scorecard:

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Nationals Scorecard for Game 3 NLDS

Despite the Nationals now being down 2-1 against the Cardinals, yesterday’s game was a lot of fun for me. I might be a die-hard Yankees fan (and way to go Raul Ibanez for keeping us ahead last night!) but I am a baseball fan above all else. I love the game, I love the history, and I love watching the teams play. And what better time to watch then in the post season when we get to see the best teams square off against one another. It is really so much fun.

My Scorecard for the NLDS Nats vs. Cardinals Game 1

I like keeping score when I watch baseball. It makes me feel more in tune with what is going on in the game. In the past, I’ve kept score on paper like just about everyone else who keeps score. But I am always looking for more ways to go paperless. So yesterday, for the first time ever, I kept score on my iPad using an app called iScore. It was pretty easy to do, I was able to keep up with the game, and my stats matched those of the game as it progressed. One of the cool features of iScore is the ability to produce scorecards from your score-keeping, so here are my visitor and home team scorecards for yesterday’s NLDS game between the Washington Nationals and the St. Louis Cardinals:

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Nationals Scorecard


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Cardinals Scorecard

The scorecard is not perfect, because I am still learning how to use the app. This was my first time. I had planned to keep score of the Yankees/Orioles games as well, but the rain delay made that impossible. It was on too late for me to stay up and watch, let alone keep score.

I like the fact that I can do these without paper, because it means I can begin archiving my scorecards in Evernote like I do for just about everything else.

My Post-Season Predictions for October

The MLB post season starts tonight with the wildcard eliminations games. After tonight, the Yankees (and Nationals) will know who they are playing. For what it’s worth, my prediction for the post season outcome is below. This isn’t based on any rigorous assessment. It is a combination of gut feeling personal wishes. Of course, being a Yankees fan, I always believe the Yanks will go all the way. This year, I think they’ll do it against Washington.

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Scorecard From My Yankees Inside Experience (Tampa at New York)

I’d meant to post my scorecard from the Yankees game I attended a few weeks ago, and never got around to it. So I present you with my scorecard today. Note that after the 6th inning, I went to get some ice cream and the line was long so I didn’t get back to my seat in time to record a half-inning. At that point, I decided to give up. But most of the game is here, for those interested in seeing my slightly nonstandard method of scoring.

Here is Tampa’s scorecard:

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And here is the Yankees scorecard:

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A Couple More Pictures From My Yankees Inside Experience

Here are a couple more pictures from my Yankees Inside Experience. These pictures were taken by Yankees photographers and sent to participants yesterday.

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Raul Ibañez and Your Humble Blogger
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Outside the dugout at Yankee Stadium

So much fun! Going to a Yankees game will never be quite the same again.

My Yankees Inside Experience

On Saturday, my brother-in-law dropped me off in front of Yankee Stadium at 10am. I was there for my Yankees Inside Experience, which was a gift to me from my family for my 40th birthday. We were told to arrive at Gate 6 at 10:15am. There was a short line when I strolled up. The sky was blue and the weather was perfect, if maybe a little warm in the direct sunlight. At 10:15, they began letting us in. We registered, had our picture taken, and received a badge, after which we were assembled into groups of 30 for a private tour of the stadium. I made sure to dress appropriately for the occasion:


I was not the only one. There was no mistaking the fans who got to roam around Yankee stadium on Saturday morning before almost anyone else was there.

The tour took us through four main attractions in the stadium. We started with a tour of the Yankees dugout, which was pretty amazing. Our group threaded our way through the aisles down toward the field and then out onto the field itself. We got to walk on the warning track (which, as we learned, is not made of dirt, but of a certain mixture of sand and clay) and then down into the dugout.


Everyone took a seat somewhere in the dugout. I sat on the far left end (if you are facing the field) where Yankees manager Joe Girardi sits (or more often than not, stands) during a game:


People had a blast getting to see the dugout, which is apparently not something they do often on the tour. They did it Saturday only because the game time was a later-than-usual start: 4:05pm as opposed to a usual 1pm Saturday start. At first, I was just overawed by it: I was sitting in the Yankees dugout! Later, I tried to act a little more casual:

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My Upcoming “Inside NY Yankees Experience”

One week from today, I will be in New York for my “Inside NY Yankees Experience,” a gift my family gave to me for my fortieth birthday. Earlier in the week, I received my itinerary and ticket for the game in the mail. The Yanks are playing Tampa Bay, in what is turning out to be a pretty close race in the AL East. I guess I picked a good game.

For anyone curious about what the Inside Experience involves, here is what my itinerary looks like:

  • 10:15am: Guest arrival and registration
  • 10:30-12:00pm: Exclusive stadium tour
  • 12:00-12:45pm: Photo and autograph opportunity with a current roster player. (I kind of wonder if the player will really want my autograph. How many baseball players are science fiction fans?)
  • 12:45-1:30pm: Lunch Buffet
  • 1:30pm: Guest depart to their seats
  • 4:05pm: First pitch

Since we are in September, there is now a 40-man roster, which means the player we meet could be the fellow just called up from single-A. Regardless, I am very excited about this event. My seats are behind home plate, looking up the third base line. My brother-in-law is also attending the game, although he was way, way up in the nosebleeds on the third base side.

While I doubt I will be live-blogging the game, you can expect a post and pictures afterward. And I’ll be doing my best to tweet the goings-on while I am there.

My Baseball Century Experiment

Sometimes, I get an idea in my head that just won’t go away. It catches fire and for days at a time, it is all I can think about. This doesn’t happen often, but it happened last week while I was reading George F. Will’s book Men At Work, an excellent book about baseball. While reading it, I got to thinking about all of the data available for more than a century of baseball play. I thought about the whole science of sabermetrics that rose up around these statistics, and I began to think, would it be fun to play with this data? Of course, it is not easy data to get one’s hands on, but that is when I had my little flash of brilliance:

What if I put together a simulation of baseball beginning with a set of entirely made-up players, and simulated 100 seasons worth of play? I would end up with a data set almost as impressive as the real thing. And that data set might be very interesting to look at. I know that there are baseball simulations out there, but I have something a little different in mind. My simulation is just that–a simulation. There is no interface to it. You run it with a certain set of inputs and setting and when it finishes, it produces a database worth of results. This is not MLB 2013 for the XBox. This is something that sits on my machine and chunks away for minutes (or hours) running through game after game, season after season.

Why do this?

  1. It sounds fun and that’s always a good reason in my book.
  2. I am looking to learn more about the intricacy of baseball and this is a good way of exploring those intricacies experimentally.
  3. I am looking to conduct some experiments with the simulations that might be interesting.
  4. I am looking to learn a new platform–Objective C and Mathematica–both of which are useful in my day job.
  5. I love baseball and this is a way to delve deep into it.

Let me explain about the experiments. I can think of several I’d like to conduct, but first and foremost in my mind is answering this question:

Who would be the record holder, and what would the big records be in a made-up league with made-up players, after 100 seasons of play based on 2 assumptions: (1) that the players, managers and umpires execute perfectly every time; (2) and that they use the accumulated data to make the best possible decision in any given situation?

I chose this as a first experiment because I wanted to ignore the human factor initially. Suppose everyone executed perfectly and suppose that in each game situation, you knew the percentages for each play you could make, always choose the move with the best chance of success: how would things look after 100 years? Would there be a trend toward lower scoring games? Would there be any perfect games? Who would be the home run king and what would that record look like? The fact that this simulation does NOT use past baseball data as a starting point makes it more interesting to me to see how the league evolves over time.

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Last Friday’s Nationals/Yankees game

This past Friday, Kelly and I had a night out. The New York Yankees were in town to play the Washington Nationals as part of interleague play and we went to see them courtesy of a friend of ours who gave us the tickets.

And what tickets they were! Talk about being spoiled for all future games! The tickets were in the PNC Diamond Club. The seats were behind home plate, with a great view of the field. We had full access to the Diamond Club, which had a bar and buffet. Also, there were people wandering around to take our orders from our seats. And best of all, the food, beer and wine was all included with the seats. Our view of the field looked like this:


Yes, that is Jeter stepping up to the plate at the start of the game. We had just a blast. The two guys in the seats next to us were from Indiana and were both Yankees fans, which made the game even more fun. There were two women sitting behind us, and they were looking for the Lexus club, or something like that. Kelly told them she’d seen it at one point, and off they went. We later learned that one of them was Robinson Cano’s wife (I believe) and I forget who the other was. Whether or not that was true, I don’t know, but that’s what we were told.

Kelly took full advantage of the buffet, getting platefuls of all kinds of good foods. Even when we first came into the club, there was a big table lined with all kinds of candy and popcorn and Kelly had her fill of that, too. I had a hot dog, and later had some excellent chicken wings, and I don’t think I had an empty beer cup for the entire duration of the game.


And you can see that I attended the game in full “uniform,” so to speak. The Yankees ended up winning the game 7-2. I think we both had a really nice night out, and to top it all off, we came home to find both kids sleeping, which has happened only once before when they’ve had a babysitter. Of course, going to a game like this really spoils you to those games where you find yourself sitting in the bleachers, paying $8 for a beer, instead of on cushioned seats where the beer is free. But that’s okay. It was still a lot of fun. Plus, I’ve got my Yankee Experience coming up in September and I imagine that will be a lot of fun, too.

Movies that make me cry

Last weekend during the reception dinner that followed the wedding of some friends, our table got around to talking about weddings and the people who cry at them. There were quite a few (happy) tears at this particular wedding and so it was a natural course for the conversation. Kelly pointed out that she didn’t cry at weddings, and of course, neither do I. But then the conversation shifted from crying at weddings to crying at movies. A few of the people at the table admitted to crying at movies. Kelly pointed out that she rarely cried at movies (although I can remember her crying when she watched Jack the Bear a few years about–such a rare event that even the movie title sticks out in my memory.) She then gleefully said to the table:

“Jamie cries at Lord of the Rings.”

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This seemed to amuse the people at the table, although I pointed out that I only cried at one specific point, toward the very end of The Return of the King when Aragorn says to the hobbits, “My friends, you bow to no one.” (Even now, just typing that my eyes have watered up.)

But there is one type of movie that is almost guaranteed to bring tears to my eyes every time, no matter how many times I’ve seen them: baseball movies.

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A beautiful day for baseball

Yesterday turned out to be quite a remarkable day for baseball.

Early yesterday morning, the Little Man and I walked to our neighborhood Target to pick up some whiffle balls and a bat–his first–so that we could play with them later on that morning. The entire family hauled our way out to Bull Run Park for an event there in support of fallen fire fighters. The Little Man got to see all kinds of fire trucks and we even watched a helicopter take off. He wore a white t-shirt with a fire truck on it and there wasn’t a fire fighter that we passed that didn’t compliment him on his shirt. I got to spend time with the Little Miss, dancing around the field with her as the band played music. The Little Man didn’t seem too interested in baseball, what with everything else going on, but he swung the bat a few times before losing interest. We all had a blast and we all managed to get minor sunburns.

Later that afternoon, I turned on the Yankee game to find the Yanks down 9-0 against Boston in the 4th inning. Given the history of those two teams, I couldn’t imagine the Yankees coming back from that. Of course, that was superseded by the fact that Philip Humber of the Chicago White Sox was on the verge of pitching a perfect game. The whole family watched the bottom of the 9th inning and I, at least, could not sit down. When Humber went 3-0 against the first batter of the inning my heart was in my throat. But he managed to come back and strike him out! Next out was a pop fly. Finally, the 27th batter struck out but the ball got away from the catcher. The catcher made the throw to first, recording the final out–and Humber had his perfect game! The 21st in the history of baseball. I was ecstatic. It doesn’t matter what team a pitcher plays for; when they throw a perfect game, it is a momentous occasion for anyone who is a baseball fan. And this was the first one I’d ever seen happen in real time.

Once I turned back to the Yankee game, I saw that the score was now 9-5, thanks to a grand slam. Another 3-run shot made it 9-8. What happened next was an implosion the likes of which I have not seen in a long, long time. The Yankees had 2 consecutive 7-run innings in which they batted around both times scoring a total of 14 runs and they ended up beating the Red Sox 15-9. Just remarkable.

I cannot remember the last time the Yankees were in first place and the Red Sox were in last place but as of this morning, that’s how things stand.

It was, indeed, a beautiful day for baseball.